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The Top 10 Best Anthony Michael Hall Movies; Watch Him Grow Up Before Your Eyes

From 'The Breakfast Club' to 'Sixteen Candles' and even 'Edward Scissorhands,' these are the best ones!

There’s no doubt that in a variety of Anthony Michael Hall movies he proved himself to be the prince of geekiness in the era of John Hughes films of the ’80s about teenagers. And yet, somehow, this super versatile actor – though pigeonholing and typecasting is common in the acting business – grew beyond his geeky specialty to embrace radically different types of roles in a successful, four-plus-decade career. From nerd to hunk, villain, reporter and a town leader hellbent on vigilante justice against a serial killer, Hall has played just about every type of character well.

Here are 10 of our favorite Anthony Michael Hall movies in chronological order.

1. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

In the outrageous comedy National Lampoon’s VacationHall’s earliest major role – he plays the young teen Rusty Griswold, who perfectly fits the image of the annoying little brother to older teen Audrey as the family embarks on a disaster-filled, cross-country road trip from Chicago to California. (Can’t you just hear that song “Holiday Rooooooooad?”) Alongside Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, Hall contributes to the humor in the movie, which culminates in a long-awaited visit to the closed Walley World via his father’s taking a park employee at gunpoint.

“Is that a real gun, Mom?” a frightened Rusty asks his mom.

“I don’t know, Rusty, but when this is all over, your father … may be going away for a little while.”

But all’s well that ends well. After all, the movie had several sequels, though a different actor played Rusty.

While working on Vacation, Hall met screenwriter John Hughes, who then brought him onto the cast of his later ‘80s movies.

2. Sixteen Candles (1984): Anthony Michael Hall movies

Hughes’ Sixteen Candles arrived in 1984. Hall played his best geek role with the character who is literally called “The Geek.” And an annoying freshman geek he truly was, competing hopelessly with senior Jake Ryan for the affections of sophomore Samantha, who is smitten with Jake. Geek confesses his plight to Samantha, pleading, “I’ve never bagged a babe. I’m not a stud,” to which Samantha actually allows him to borrow her panties to show the other guys, so he doesn’t look like too much of a loser. Now that’s charity!

3. The Breakfast Club (1985)

In Hughes’ The Breakfast Club, the iconic ‘80s teen movie about adolescent angst and cliques, Hall plays the straight-laced, brainy, nerdy Brian Johnson. Why in the world would such a kid be sentenced to Saturday detention with the rebels? It’s for a dark reason: Under so much parental pressure to get good grades, Brian contemplated suicide when he failed a class and got busted for bringing a flare gun to school. Judd Nelson’s John Bender taunts Brian and calls him a “parent’s wet dream.” Hall was perfectly cast in this role.

4. Weird Science (1985): Anthony Michael Hall movies

“My creation, is it real? It’s my creation, ooh, my creation!” These Oingo Boingo lyrics from the theme song to Weird Science capture the dorky awe of Hall’s character in this next Hughes ‘80s movie with the young actor taking on another geeky role. Hall plays Gary, who joins with his fellow nerdy sidekick, Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith), to create the perfect woman from a computer program. Did it work? Yes, but comical crazies ensue.

5. Johnny Be Good (1988)

Three years after Weird Science, Hall gets a starring role as a jock rather than a geek in Johnny Be Good. Now, He plays Johnny Walker, a hunky high school football quarterback being courted by many colleges who fiercely compete for his interest. Meanwhile, Johnny’s girlfriend wants him to attend the state school with her, even though that college hasn’t offered him anything. My, how times changed for the characters Hall took on!

6. Edward Scissorhands (1990): Anthony Michael Hall movies

In come the ‘90s, and former geek Hall becomes the bully and villain in Edward Scissorhands. In this 1990 Tim Burton family film, Hall plays Jim, the antagonist. who picks on Edward (Johnny Depp), the outcast with scissors for hands. We won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen the movie, but Jim the bully faces justice for his mistreatment of Edward and ex-girlfriend, Kim. We note the diversity of character types Hall played in this first decade of his career: many times a geek, but also an athlete and, in this case, a bullying bad guy.

7. Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story (2001)

In the TV movie Hysteria: The Def Leppard Story, released in 2001, Hall plays Robert John “Mutt” Lange, a South African producer and songwriter who has sometimes been referred to as the sixth member of the legendary rock band. Hall’s acting captures the ambitious character well when he says: “You guys sold 7 million copies of Pyromania. It’s one of the biggest albums in history. It’s a good warm-up.” And here we are, several decades later, still attending Def Leppard concerts. Hall looked right at home in this movie that celebrates the golden ‘80s.

8. The Dark Knight (2008): Anthony Michael Hall movies

In The Dark Knight, a Batman movie from 2008, Hall plays Mike Engel, a reporter for Gotham Tonight. The sinister Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger, holds Engel hostage and broadcasts an ominous warning written by him. “Come nightfall, the city is mine,” Engel reads, while we hear the Joker repeat the word “Mine.” Engel continues, “The bridge and tunnel crowds are sure in for a surprise.” Thankfully, Batman comes to the rescue and saves Engel and other hostages.

9. Halloween Kills (2021) and Halloween Ends (2022)

If you mostly knew the actor from the Hughes ‘80s geek era, you may not have recognized him in more recent movies, where Hall no longer has blonde curls, is in his 50s and has very short hair. One of his notable flicks is Halloween Kills, the 2021 chapter in the endless Halloween movie franchise. In this installment, Hall plays the adult Tommy Doyle, that cute young boy who was being babysat by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and terrorized by Michael Myers in the original Halloween. Now, more than five decades later, Tommy wants revenge, leading the town of Haddonfield in an uprise against Myers. Does it work? Halloween Ends was released a year later.

10. Air Force One Down (2024) : Anthony Michael Hall movies

Hall’s most recent role came in 2024 with Air Force One Down, in which he plays Sam Waitman, a Secret Service agent who tries to save President Edwards (Ian Bohen) when Air Force One is hijacked by terrorists. One of Sam’s memorable quotes is this response to presidential protest about his advice: “Mr. President, I don’t tell you how to run the country. Please don’t tell me how to protect you.” Unfortunately, no one was protected from the critics of this one.


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